Daugherty Refinery Team, Petrolia, PA – National Champions, 1935 – Front Row, L-R: T. Dean, J. Rice, W. Powell, D. Evans, S. Cox, L. Nulph, G. Schiebel, E. Vavra. Back Row: L-R: T. Murphy, J. Miller, H. Davis, J. Rudolph, Lud Smith, L. Barnum, C. Wahlrobenstine, D. Gaiser, A. Garbark, E. Mortimer.
By Jeffrey Calta
Petrolia Wins Championship. Such was the headline from the Butler Eagle on September 17, 1935 when the Petrolia Refiners baseball team won the 1935 National Amateur Baseball Federation World Series held at League Park in Cleveland, Ohio. The Refiners beat Springdale, PA by a score of 16-4 to take home the top honors.
The Petrolia Refiners team was sponsored by the Daugherty Refinery of Petrolia (now known as Sonneborn Division of HollyFrontier Sinclair Corp). The Daugherty Refinery began recruiting top baseball talent in the area in 1933 with the lure of steady employment at the Petrolia refinery and the chance to play serious amateur baseball at the same time. The Petrolia Refiners began their existence in 1933 and lasted until 1935. They were the runners-up in the 1934 Amateur World Series and they took the crown in the 1935 Series.
The 1935 team consisted of Don Gaiser (3B), Tom Dean (2B), H. Davis (CF), Art Garbark (SS) Chuck Wahlrobenstine (RF), G. Scheibel (LF), W. Powell (1B), L. Barnum (C), Don Evans (C), L. Nulph (P), Lud Smith (P), and Johnny Miller (P). Eugene (Doc) Mortimer was the Refiner’s manager. Other members of the team included Joe Rice, Steve Cox, E. Vavra, and John Rudolph. T. A .Murphy was the plant manager of Daugherty Refinery at that time.
Although the Refiners did not take first place at the 1934 Amateur World Series they defeated many teams from major urban centers from all over the Eastern and Midwestern United States. Written accounts from Cleveland newspapers indicated that this team was highly regarded in both offensive and defensive skills.
The 1935 Amateur World Series was won by the Petrolia Refiners after playing 10 games in 8 days. 21 teams from Alabama, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana entered the Series that year.
Many members of the Petrolia Refiners remained at Daugherty Refinery as employees for many years. Tom Dean, Chuck Wigton Sr, Joe Rice, Chuck Wahlrobenstine, Don Gaiser, Don Evans, Lud Smith, Steve Cox and John Rudolph were all long time Daugherty employees. Many of these men also continued their amateur baseball careers in various Butler County leagues.